116th Congress



Supreme Court Appointments: Reform or Revenge?

Susan Sullivan Lagon | October 7, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing on September 18th reverberated throughout the nation and our institutions.  Mourners congregated at the Supreme Court immediately following the news, with Mitch McConnell’s statement that the Senate would vote on President Trump’s nominee coming just over an hour after the Supreme Court’s announcement. The prospect of Judge Amy Coney


Norms, Precedents and Senate Confirmation

Josh Huder | October 2, 2020

The Supreme Court vacancy created by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing has thrust the Senate’s constitutional confirmation function into an already chaotic 2020 election cycle. Senate Majority Leader McConnell appears poised for a pre-election rush to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett—in direct contravention of his previous statements about confirming Supreme Court nominees in election years and


Social Movements and Policy Change

Laura Blessing | September 8, 2020

How should we understand the fire this time?  In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, a movement has re-ignited for civil rights in general and against police brutality specifically.  August 28 saw a March on Washington, 57 years after the original march with MLK’s famous “I have a dream” speech to crowds


Hearings Oversight in a Time of Covid

Katina Slavkova | July 1, 2020

At the end of season one of the popular HBO comedy series Veep, a panicked staffer from the Vice President’s office hurriedly solicits advice from a lawyer during a fundraising event. The staffer dreads being asked to testify before Congress because of his role in a series of hilariously incompetent crises. He urgently queries the


Director’s Desk

Kristin Nicholson | June 5, 2020

Dear Friends, As summer begins, Congress finds itself – like many Americans – grappling with overlapping crises and historic events. A global pandemic still rages, the U.S. economy has been devastated, and hundreds of communities across America have seen protests and demonstrations in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. House


You’ve Got Mail: Voting in a Pandemic

Susan Sullivan Lagon | June 3, 2020

The pandemic has disrupted many things, including voting, the practice of democracy itself. As state primaries go by and the country gears up for November, some states are more ready for mail-in voting than others. Meanwhile, false claims have been circulated about mail-in voting having a partisan advantage (it doesn’t) or being


Congress in Crisis is Congress at Work

Matt Glassman | April 1, 2020

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, three major bills were passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in March. On March 6, the president signed into law H.R.6074, an $8.3 billion supplemental appropriations bill, mostly aimed at providing additional funding for the Department of Health and Human Services to combat coronavirus.


Remote voting would have some bad consequences.

Josh Huder | March 16, 2020

Amid a growing pandemic where social interaction could threaten health, many questions have been raised about the continuity of operations on Capitol Hill. Not for the first time, remote voting is among the ideas being floated. It has been more frequently mentioned in congressional discourse since smartphones became commonplace. Over the past couple of weeks, however,


The Appropriations Process from the Perspective of a Congressional Staffer

Mark Harkins | March 10, 2020

Welcome to appropriations season on Capitol Hill.  With the President’s budget officially submitted last month it is now up to Congress to decide what to keep, what to discard, and what to enhance. I want to focus on the third category, and I offer these thoughts from the perspective of someone with nearly two